WHO survey finds 50% of the population will experience a mental health condition.
A large-scale study spanning 29 countries and over 150,000 people found at least 50% of individuals will struggle with a mental health condition by the time they are 75. The data was collected through a World Health Organization (WHO) survey. Participants submitted answers to this questionnaire between 2001 and 2022. The study specifically focused on 13 of the top mental health concern, including:
- Anxiety disorders
- Bipolar Disorder
- Major Depressive Disorder
- Substance/alcohol abuse
The data collected shares that about 30% of participants had experienced a mental health condition or mental health crisis in the past 10 years, and females have a slightly higher risk of developing a mental health condition by the time they are 75. The study results show 53% of females and 46% of males are in that risk category.
The survey also identified that the top three mental health concerns are depression, social anxiety, and PTSD. Women struggle with PTSD more than men while men struggle with alcohol/substance abuse more than women.
Adolescence seems to be the peak time when mental health conditions develop, according to the responses in the survey. The median age is 19, emphasizing the importance of allocating resources and offering education to children and youth on mental health management. Teaching problem-solving skills from an early age can lessen the chance of struggling with adverse symptoms later in life.
When people are aware of the signs and symptoms of a mental health condition in themselves or others, they are more likely to pursue help. A mental health disorder at a young age that isn’t diagnosed and treated can cause lifetime problems for the individual. Early intervention and treatment plans can give everyone the chance to live a quality life.
Experts caution that a single mental health condition in youth can spill over into many facets of a person’s life and persist for a lifetime. This can cause distress in relationships, academics, and employment, leading to instability, a lack of identity and poor self-esteem. Leaving symptoms unaddressed tends to make things worse over time.
Of course, individuals can develop more than one mental health concern simultaneously, depending on both genetics and environmental factors, and coping skills can often be used to manage multiple conditions at once. For example, someone who enters therapy with concerns about anxiety can work with a clinician on cognitive-behavioral skills that will improve self-confidence while also addressing past traumas.
According to the World Health Organization, cultural norms regarding addressing mental health vary in different areas of the world, and whether or not someone will seek help often depends on where they live and the strength of their individual support systems. Some cultures are much more open to seeking care than others. Efforts to destigmatize mental health need to be continued to dismantle harmful belief systems that keep individuals from seeking the treatment they need before things become too overwhelming.